Many of us look forward to the first snowfall with anticipation, especially after a long, hot summer. For the elderly, however, winter isn't about snowflakes, sledding and warm cups of hot cocoa. Winter can be an overwhelming time for senior citizens, especially if they live far from their loved ones that can help with the demands that winter weather brings with it. From shoveling sidewalks to clearing snow and ice from the cars to fears of frozen pipes and simply keeping warm and safe, winters can be long, lonely times for senior citizens.
If your aging relatives live in an area of the country where winter is a concern, here are some steps to take to alleviate winter worries for the seniors in your life:
- Make certain the house is properly insulated. By installing insulation around the windows and doors you can reduce the cost of heating bills and this will make it easier to maintain a steady temperature in the home. Draft blockers for all doors will also help keep the home warm and wintery drafts out.
- If you, or another family member doesn’t live close by, hire someone keep the driveway, doorways, sidewalks and porches always shoveled and de-iced.
- Install programmable thermostats. This will be one less item they will need to remember and the thermostat can be scheduled to turn the temperature up and down based on the bedtimes of your aging relatives. Turning the heat down when they're sleeping helps keeps the utility bills manageable.
- Have the furnace checked well prior to the first snow fall. Having a professional come in once a year to clean and check the furnace can help alleviate any problems in the dead of winter and can find any potential problems before the heating season is in full swing.
- Look around the house for areas in which winds could slip through the cracks such as windows and doorways. Use weather stripping, caulk or other sealants to keep the cold air out and trap the warm air in. If the windows don’t have an Energy Star rating, you may want to consider adding plastic over the windows for an additional layer of insulation.
- Medical alert devices. It happens that in the winter people get out less and should an elderly person fall, they could perhaps lay on the floor a few days before someone stops by. A medical alert device offers peace of mind that should a fall or medical emergency occur, help can be alerted at the push of a button.
- Make sure the pantry is stocked with nonperishables and foods that can be eaten without having to be cooked in the event the power goes out or weather is so bad they can't get to the store.
By taking these steps, you’ll have the peace of mind that your loved one’s home is a safe place for them this winter.